Ahhhh! I finally finished a book - the first one of 2021.
I don't know why, but I've been unable to latch onto anything so far this year. I've probably cycled through at least 10-12 books and either half-finished or started all of them; some of them I began last year. But nothing has kept my attention, until Monday.
This book was somewhat of an impulse buy. Part frustration at not having been able to find many BIPOC options in-store (seriously??), part having heard good things about Jackson's second book (her first - Allegedly - was nominated for the NAACP Image Award), and part late night, exhausted online shopping spree.
When I'm stuck I usually pile up a few books and try out the first five or so pages to see if anything sticks. I did that with Monday's Not Coming, but made it to page 25...and then later that night I picked it up again. Over the last two days I absolutely devoured it.
It's one of my favorite types of books - simple language with nothing immediately shocking about it. On the surface it's about two girls, best friends in their own little bubble, navigating school and new interests in life (read: boys). But when one of the girls stops showing up to school and the only person who seems concerned is her friend...it plants just enough of a seed for readers to keep getting dragged right back in.
Before I get into my write up of the book, I just want to highlight Jackson's last words in the acknowledgements section: "Lastly, to missing children of color, we have not forgotten about you. We will continue to fight and give you a voice. You matter."
PS: I'm aware that I'm very behind with this one! Monday's Not Coming was published in 2018 and has great reviews all around.
Title & Author: Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Date finished: February 11th
Would I read it again? Most likely
Would I recommend it? Yes
Themes or characters that resonated with me: The way trauma can materialize; the way trauma can shape our lives.
Emotions, thoughts, or memories it brought up: Definitely the funeral scene! I vividly remember a similar instance in my life, and a very similar reaction to it. Jackson did an amazing job writing pre-teens/teenagers, especially in a school setting.
Opinion about the author or writing style (readability, writing style, originality, personal impact, relatability, plot): What’s interesting is that initially, I kept wondering if this book was technically YA literature. Not a problem at all if it is – it's just such an easy read. I finished it in two days!! But easy in the way that the language – and voice – are simple, that of a pre-teen/teenager, and in a lot of ways undiluted with over-thinking. Concepts are also framed by the main character’s pre-teen/teenager mind, which I’ve aged out of at this point, so looking back and recognizing those thought processes was interesting. I’m never usually a fan of authors adding in visuals, whether images or “handwritten” styled text, but I think Jackson did a great job of adding just a touch of it for authenticity. The short, to the point journal entries from Monday and Claudia only pull your heart strings tighter. Jackson also did an amazing job with tension and suspense! I was juggling four or five possible outcomes, and couldn’t settle on one. In the end I was surprised and shocked by the events, but the great thing is that they were (sadly) not far-fetched or overdone.
Overall rating: 9/10
My biggest take away/general notes: This book brought me back to being a pre-teen/teenager in a beautiful and aching way. I kept thinking about how similarly I felt to the characters when I was their age. Trying to communicate important things to my parents and the adults around me, but not knowing how to phrase any of it; the fear of being in trouble and the need to solve problems as we all struggled to become individuals. It swept me up immediately. Despite how simple I initially viewed the language, I picked the book up a few times a day, wanting to know what would happen next. The characters are beautiful. The descriptions of their lives – deeply rooted in their race and socioeconomic situations – were also beautiful. This whole book was a beautiful mess that broke my heart a few times over. It serves as both a lesson and a reminder.